Buckhead getting new zoning map
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Buckhead City Council members met in a work session Monday night with county Senior Planner Allison Moon and Planning and Development Director Chuck Jarrell to talk about possible upcoming changes to the city’s zoning ordinance.
“This is still a working draft,” said Moon.
The city’s current zoning ordinance was adopted in 1988, and county officials say it’s time for a review.
“The ordinance has been in place for 20 years…it’s time for an update,” said Moon.
The biggest proposed change to the ordinance is a reduction in the number of zoning classifications used in the city. Moon recommended the elimination of the city’s Manufacturing zone, as well as two higher-density residential classifications. The new ordinance could have five zones—Agricultural, Residential, Commercial 1, Commercial 2 and Public Use.
Moon said that she would advise the adoption of a single Residential classification because of the large number of lots within the city limits that have been developed at less than one acre.
“If you step back to a one-acre minimum, what you do is create a lot of non-conforming lots in the city,” said Moon. “That’s not a problem for the city…it does become a problem for citizens, if they’re trying to re-finance their property and they are dealing with a bank that won’t lend them money on a non-conforming lot,” said Moon.
Moon said that development in the town could be governed with creative design, as opposed to minimum lot sizes.
“We’re moving in a direction that maintains acre-density, without defining minimum lot size,” said Moon. “As long as the number of rooftops is right, [we could] give you some flexibility on lot size.”
In other words, if a property owner had ten acres and wanted to subdivide, future development regulations could allow the owner to create much smaller lots surrounded by open space, as long as no more than ten houses were built—as opposed to being required to break the land into ten one-acre pieces, as is often the case now.
“Hopefully we can work with property developers in such a way that they can cluster homes—and then lease back that open space for grazing or hay,” said Moon.
Buckhead’s draft zoning ordinance will go before the Morgan County Planning Commission for a first reading tonight at 7 p.m.